Name That Bug!

Pathogens, or “bugs” such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi can contaminate our food. Pathogens can make us sick when we eat them or can produce toxins that will make us sick.

See if you can identify this bug:

  • I can grow whether there is oxygen or not.

  • I am widely-present in the environment in animals and on plants.

  • I am most often found in meats, milk, vegetables and fish.

  • There are two types of me.

  • My most common symptoms are abdominal cramps, stomach pains and water diarrhea. Sometimes I cause vomiting.

  • I usually make people sick for 1-2 days.

  • I make people sick anytime between 6 and 12 hours after eating contaminated foods.

  • I can make anyone sick.

Who am I?

I am bacillus cereus. (How to pronounce)


Bacillus cereus or B. cereus is a type of bacteria that has the ability to produce toxins, under the right conditions, that can make people sick. These toxins can cause two types of illness: one type characterized by diarrhea and the other by nausea and vomiting. These bacteria are soil dwelling, meaning anything from the soil could have these bacteria on them. Washing products can help eliminate the bacteria but it must be cooked and cooled properly as well.


How to prevent this in your facility:

  1. Do not prepare too much food in advance of service that will need to be ‘held’.

  2. Avoid holding cooked foods at room temperature. This is the greatest risk, improper cooling or holding at temperatures below 135F.

  3. Cool foods promptly; 135F to 71F in 2 hours and 70F to 41F in 4 hours. Use shallow pans, divide food into smaller quantities. Do not cover with plastic wrap until it reaches 41F or less… ever!

  4. Keep hot foods hot; all cooked food held at 135F or hotter. Don’t store cooked backup products like potatoes, soup or rice above the burners or on a rolling rack, ‘keeping warm’, until needed for service.

  5. Reheat foods rapidly to 165F when preparing something on the steam table.

Foods incriminated in past outbreaks include cooked meat and vegetables, boiled or fried rice, custards, soups, and raw vegetable sprouts.

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